The Clothesline Lady
helping my mother hang clothes on the line was one of the best memories of my childhood and one of the few activities that would bring my mother joy."
Lawrence, now seventy, has since amassed a huge collection of clothesline and laundry memorabilia--paintings, poems, photos, antique laundry items, books, and more than a dozen binders on the history and culture of the clothesline. Four years ago, she retired from her job as a senior administrator at Brandeis University, moved to Ann Arbor to be close to her daughter's family, and transformed herself from clothesline hobbyist to advocate.
"My daughter encouraged me to give a talk about it, and one thing led to another," she says. Toting roller bags of clothesline items, Lawrence has since spoken to dozens of groups at senior and retirement centers, memory loss groups, faculty women's groups, antiquarian organizations, and gardening clubs, "reigniting memories" of the clothesline while also encouraging everyone she meets to get back outside to hang their clothes and reconnect with others.